WordPress on mod_php

I hate to post before searching, but the search doesn’t seem to be working - no results are ever found for any search. Anyway, pardon me if others have asked this previously.

I am experienced with Joomla 1.5, but WordPress is new to me. I’m setting it up for someone less technical to do the actual blogging. It is hosted on a shared server with PHP as an Apache module. If it were Joomla, FTP Layer would be employed for file uploads, edits, etc., but apparently WordPress doesn’t have FTP Layer. In order for the blogger to do something as simple as uploading images for use in blog posts, I have to use FTP to chmod 777 on the directory (bad), and then the files/subdirectories are owned by httpd, not the account user (also bad). Is there anything I can do about that (short of moving the whole site to a different hoster who runs PHP as CGI and taking the resulting performance hit)?